New York, October 12, 2023 – The United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide has issued a dire warning about the heightened risk of genocide and related atrocity crimes in Ethiopia. This ominous announcement follows reports of sustained violent clashes between government troops and local militias in the Amhara, Afar, and Oromia regions.

Alice Wairimu Nderitu expressed concern about the grave situation. “The incident reports that we see coming out of Ethiopia are deeply disturbing and constitute a call for action. I want to particularly draw the attention of the global community to the continued presence of risk factors for genocide and related atrocity crimes in the country,” she stated.

Disturbing reports indicate that entire families have been killed, and relatives have been forced to witness horrific crimes against their loved ones. Whole communities have been displaced or expelled from their homes, leaving innocent civilians in dire straits. Special Adviser Wairimu Nderitu emphasized, “The suffering of innocent civilians should never be accepted as inevitable; rather, it must reinforce our commitment to ensure that impunity does not prevail and that all possible prevention actions are prioritized.”

The Special Adviser referred to her previous statements over the last three years, highlighting the ongoing violations against civilians, including mass killings, rape, starvation, destruction of schools and medical facilities, forced displacement, and arbitrary detention. These violations have been perpetrated by parties to the conflict since November 3, 2020, with no sign of resolution.

Reports also indicate widespread rape, multi-perpetrator-rape, and other forms of sexual violence against ethnic Amhara and Agew women and girls in various regions. The Special Adviser strongly condemned these actions, emphasizing the need to stop the violence.

Despite the Pretoria peace agreement to cease hostilities more than a year ago, violent confrontations persist, accompanied by mounting allegations of atrocities, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

On September 24, the historic city of Gondar in Amhara experienced heavy urban combat as local militias known as the Fano entered the city, leading to intense clashes with Federal Forces.

Special Adviser Wairimu Nderitu also expressed concern about the alleged ongoing presence of Eritrean troops in Ethiopia and called for accountability for the violations they are reportedly committing. Additionally, she voiced her worry about the Ethiopian government’s inability to effectively prevent or investigate violations.

In her concluding remarks, Special Adviser Wairimu Nderitu emphasized the urgency of preventing violence, holding perpetrators accountable, and ending the cycle of violence, stating, “Violence can and must be prevented with the utmost urgency.”